Food Pantries Seeing Increased Use

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

One in seven Americans are living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census.

That means many families are struggling to provide such basics as food.

On average 300 families come to The Neighbor's Place food pantry in Wausau every week.

"We continue to see new faces coming in. People can use our pantry once every three weeks," said Tom Rau, the non-profit's director.

People like Stacey Schultz, 24, who lost her job nearly a year ago, and has not found new employment.

"What I'm doing here today is getting some extra food to help my family. I have three kids so I've got a lot of mouths to feed," Shultz said.

Some of the new faces here used to donate food to the Neighbor's Place, but now they're using the services to help feed their own families.

"Each month we seem to gain new families and once we get those new families we expect they're going to stay with us until something changes in their life," Rau said.

The Neighbor's Place relies heavily on donations and community support. The kind of food your family likes to eat, is exactly what people going to the pantry are looking for.

Beginning next week people can start to donate fresh food and frozen items. The Neighbor's Place is installing a 24 by 12 foot freezer and cooler.

"It's going to make a huge difference," Rau said.

He says the Wausau community has always been generous and he's thankful for that. But he questions at what point will we have reached the limit the community can provide.

The food pantry's use is up 28 percent from last year.

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